The human conscious and subconscious are the most mysterious areas of the brain for science. Even 100 years ago, the practice of controlling the non-material aspects of a living organism was considered forbidden and was classified as witchcraft. In the 1960s, the situation changed.
Scientists became interested in studying ancient occupations, focusing on feedback from practitioners. And by the end of the century, such areas as yoga ceased to be eccentric hobbies. They began to be associated with longevity and firmly entered the number of areas of human self-development. One of the most popular practices today is yoga Nidra.
What is yoga Nidra Sleep?
“Nidra” in Sanskrit means, literally – a dream. Yoga-nidrā – “sleep yoga”. The borderline state between sleep and wakefulness has a broader name – “mental sleep”. The study of this phenomenon was carried out by American scientists in the 70s. An amazing discovery was made: thanks to tantric practices, a person can really control his consciousness and subconsciousness, while being in the physical phase of deep yogic sleep.
The founder of the practice is Swami Satyananda Saraswati, yogi, master of tantra, and author of the book of the same name “Yoga Nidra”. It was he who popularized the practices, combining them with auto-training and lessons, and became the founder of the Yoga Research Institute.
Yoga Nidra is a method of relaxation, deep relaxation, through withdrawal into oneself, into one’s own subconscious. Practices prove that one hour of yoga Nidra can replace four hours of full sound sleep.
Relaxation happens on a physical level. All organs of perception are turned off, consciousness is completely disconnected from material objects. Muscles and blood flow slow down their work, the released energy is directed to “repair” the body’s weak points, and the process of self-healing starts.
Concept of sankalpa in Yoga-nidra
The first, most important step on the way to what you want is determination. Sankalpa in Sanskrit means “attitude”, or “intention”. At its core, this is a form of self-discipline that helps you start mastering the practice of yoga Nidra, one of the practices of self-improvement and managing your emotions. Helps to fulfill the plan.
Shavasana – yoga nidra pose
In the language of yogis, savasana is the corpse (dead) pose. Complete relaxation of the whole body, entering a state of stupor. It is customary to call her the “queen” of all asanas. If in the main practices of yoga Shavasana is the final element, then for Nidra it is the main one. The essence of savasana is a calm body and mind without anxiety, with the highest concentration within oneself.
Shavasana, as a pose, is achieved by lying on your back, on a hard surface. At the same time, the feet are separated, and the arms are removed from the body and turned palms up. The body should be in the most comfortable and relaxed state.
Shavasana, as a technique, is the achievement of a state of complete passivity, through the gradual relaxation of all parts of the body.
Yoga Nidra combines the state of relaxation of the body and relaxation of the mind. That is why Nidra provides a deeper immersion in trance than Shavasana alone. Practices are performed under dictation: the leader or teacher directs the process of moving attention through the body. It’s just that Shavasana can be done on its own, in silence, or with music, and this is how it differs from yoga Nidra.
The main differences between Nidra and classical practices
Nidra is unlike any of the classical yoga practices. The difference is that it is based on a completely different nature and technique – Nyasa: the control of all types of human perception in the borderline state between sleep and wakefulness. It is achieved by moving mantras through all parts of the body. The state of the body is known exclusively through consciousness.
Nidra is recommended for mentally and physically exhausted people who have lost their taste for life. The practice can be used in the process of rehabilitation after severe injuries. Followers argue that yoga Nidra is better than other practices for fulfilling desires and achieving goals.
Yoga Nidra with regression
The task of Nidra practices is to find the keys to the closed parts of consciousness and subconsciousness. Thanks to a night of deep hypnogogic sleep, a person becomes capable of regression – a return to his past, forgotten childhood, prenatal period, and past lived lives. What for? To die as a fussy earthly personality and be reborn as a new superman, alien to negative emotions, fears, stresses, anger, and fatigue.
Regression therapy is a completely scientifically based, worldwide patented psychotherapeutic method for the treatment of various mental and psychological problems. By immersing the patient in a hypnotic dream, the therapist can “pull out” repressed situations from the subconscious. For example, from childhood, which a person forgot, they were reflected in his current life in the form of phobias, fears, and chronic neuroses. Being in a hypnotic dream, patients often “jumped” beyond the intrauterine period, recalling their past incarnations. It was then that hypnologists started talking seriously about reincarnation.
Yoga Nidra, with regression into the past, requires some preparation.
Features of technology for experienced and beginners
Nidra does not require physical preparation, it is the gymnastics of Sankalpa: will, consciousness and subconsciousness. The technique is suitable for those who have been practicing yoga for a long time, and for beginners. At the head of meditation is one pose – Shavasana.
The practice of yoga Nidra includes three main phases of insight:
- Shavasana pose, achieving complete relaxation on a physical level, without falling asleep.
- The formulation of Sankalpa, in order to include installations in the subconscious.
- Nyasa, is the movement of consciousness through the body, in a certain rhythm to the mantras.
They practice Yoga Nidra in the evening, before going to bed, or complete a course of heavy physical exertion with it. For classes, you will need a rug, a small pillow, a blanket, and possibly an eye mask. Clothing should be spacious, not restrictive. The nidra technique is needed to improve the quality of sleep, when a person is able to fully relax and recover in a significantly shorter time. In addition, it will be easier to overcome insomnia, since an intermediate state on the verge of reality and sleep, caused consciously, will allow you to easily fall into a deep sound sleep.
Practicing nidra in the morning helps keep you active even if you haven’t been fully rested at night.
How to Prepare for Yoga Nidra
One of the conditions for preparation is an empty stomach. After a hearty dinner, you can just fall asleep. Perform exercises, most effectively, three hours later, after eating. It is allowed to drink a cup of strong tea or coffee, a light snack with fruit, as an acute feeling of hunger will also prevent you from relaxing and turning off thoughts.
The environment should be calm and comfortable. You need to do it in a closed room, without extraneous noise and distractions, and turn off your mobile phone.
During practice, even in a warm room, you can freeze, as with all physiological processes, blood circulation slows down. It is better to cover yourself with a blanket or turn on additional heating.
The first stage of preparation for the beginning of nidra practices is physical activity. A tired body itself seeks peace and relaxation.
Attention should be directed to the voice of the presenter, without focusing on the commands and the meaning of their implementation. Eyes closed, nothing should distract.
The next step is breathing exercises with the diaphragm in a uniform rhythm: inhalation is equal to exhalation. Gradually, you need to focus on the fingers, muscles, and joints. Consciousness, as it were, “moves” to that part of the body that worries. In this way: “inhale-exhale”, its relaxation is achieved. Practitioners note that memorizing and singing mantras in itself causes a state of complete abstraction from extraneous thoughts.
Rotation of consciousness, movement through the body
The movement of consciousness through the body in a certain order from right to left, starting from the fingers and toes – this is rotation, as the next stage of nidra. Parts of the body do not need to be controlled, you just need to be aware of them: “fingers are cold or warm”, taking your condition for granted and turning off, gradually, from unpleasant sensations.
In the process of preparing for yoga nidra, you can use visualization: imagine yourself in the most comfortable and safe place: on the seashore, in a clearing in the forest, or at home on the bed. In group classes, visualization is much easier – you just follow the instructor’s voice and commands without thinking about what to do next, without trying to remember how to sing. That is why classes in a group, with a leader, are more effective, especially for beginners.
How to make effective Sankalpa
Thought forms a firm intention that prompts action. The simpler and shorter it is, the easier it is to start doing it, on a regular basis. This is the sankalpa – the introduction of decisions and determinations into the subconscious, to encourage oneself to action. Most effectively, the introduction of sankalpa occurs just during nidra.
There are simple rules for formulating and implementing your own attitudes:
- It is forbidden to use the negation of “not” or “no”. Sankalpa is designed to encourage, not slow down. Instead of texting “I won’t smoke”, say “I want to quit smoking”.
- The sankalpa should be as short as possible. The shorter the phrase, the faster our subconscious will absorb it and turn it into an installation.
- The attitude cannot be negative. All our efforts are aimed at getting rid of troubles and problems.
- Sankalpa is pronounced only in the first person.
- One sankalpa implies one aspiration, intention.
- Sankalpa should formulate your real desire, and not be imposed by extraneous influence.
- Sankalpa cannot be changed until it is fully achieved.
How it works
Creating positive attitudes to improve and eliminate negativity works just like our daily habits. A habit is a neural connection between brain cells that encourages you to perform the same actions without much thought: wash your face, brush your teeth, change clothes, boil a kettle, or smoke.
Sankalpa helps to make it a habit to do something that you didn’t want to do before, caused discomfort, or postponed until tomorrow. A positive sankalpa: “I love all dogs” will gradually replace negative emotions and fear of animals, and the subconscious mind will begin to notice that even the most vicious street dog is a rather sweet and beautiful creature. The feedback will also work: you will stop radiating fear and negativity, extinguishing the oncoming flow of troubles from a person or animal.
Sankalpa can be not only positive but also neutral. Yoga excludes any violence, including over oneself. No desire to radiate positivity to the boss? You can put a neutral sankalpa: “I will react calmly and detachedly.”
Visualization and implementation of Sankalpa
To fix the created sankalpa, it must be visualized. Before plunging into a real situation, it must be “scrolled” first in the mind, then in the subconscious in details and trifles.
Fear of heights can be overcome by setting yourself the attitude “I want to climb higher.” First, on a stool to sweep the cobwebs from the ceiling, then on a stepladder to fix the peeled-off cornice. And before you climb in a cold sweat, on a real ladder, it is worth imagining that you are doing this. As the stairs wobble or shift, the steps creak. Then mentally let go of your hands and begin to fulfill your plan.
Our brain does not care how exactly we experience the situation: real or visual, the sensations will be approximately the same. People who are afraid of spiders or snakes do not need to see them live, feelings of fear come even when a picture appears. Here lies the essence of nightmares. Nidra will help you practice lucid dreaming and manage your fears even in deep sleep.
Yoga Nidra for sleep without Sankalpa
It is possible to practice Nidra without introducing intentions into the subconscious. This is fine. A lot of people are quite happy, and prosperous, and do not have the need to change anything in themselves. In this case, yoga nidra itself for sleep is the goal – relaxation, well-being, getting rid of insomnia, and mental balance.
For beginners who cannot yet realize their real desires, you can also start practicing without a sankalpa. It is difficult to single out the main thing in yoga Nidra, it is permissible to start from any stage of cognition of the truth. For example, with the development of shavasana. The corpse pose is not as simple as it seems at first glance. Feeling comfortable on a hard, flat surface will not work right away until a person learns to completely relax the muscles. Sankalpa during nidra is a state akin to hypnosis, incorrect attitudes can also harm the subconscious.
Benefits and Benefits of Nidra Practice
To fully rest without falling asleep is the main advantage of the practice, without deepening into the process of self-knowledge. Mastering the skill of moving the “sliding” of consciousness, without concentrating on what is happening from the position of a witness, helps to quickly plunge the body into a deep, healthy, sound sleep. The benefits of yoga for the body are scientifically proven:
- Release from stress, and chronic fatigue.
- Treatment of insomnia.
- Rehabilitation and healing for injuries and illnesses.
- Increasing learning and performance.
- Acceleration of brain blood flow, the release of neural connections.
- Getting rid of bad habits and phobias.
- Multiple memory improvement.
- Release of inner potential.
- Rejuvenation and healing of the body.
You can practice yoga nidra every day, in the morning, at lunchtime, in the evening. Depending on the time of day, either the activation of the body, a reboot, or its immersion in a state of rest and subsequent sleep is achieved.
Yoga Nidra for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy is the time to get rid of everyday worries and start practicing nidra. The skill of complete relaxation will greatly help in the process of childbirth, relieve pain and control your feelings.
Nidra is especially useful if the woman’s mind already has a description of the experience of previous births, and the fear associated with this phenomenon, before pain and negative emotions. The practice of yoga Nidra will help you stay conscious, listen, at the same time to the doctor, your feelings, even when the body is torn by painful cramps, and focus only on what the child feels at the time of birth.
Contraindications to the use of yoga Nidra
Nidra, as a form of psychotherapy, has its own characteristics and contraindications:
- epilepsy, in any form;
- paranoid syndrome;
- mental retardation;
- disorders associated with the use of psychoactive substances;
- personality and behavior disorders;
- hysterical states;
- chronic diseases in the acute stage (gastritis, pancreatitis, ulcer);
- stroke, acute ischemia;
- nervous tics (behavioral syndromes associated with physical factors).
The main mistakes of beginners
Yoga is a science, a skill, a habit. Mastering the techniques is impossible without visualization. How impossible it is to learn to knit, to play the guitar from a book, without ever seeing clearly how it is done. There are a lot of videos, audiobooks, guides for beginners, and photos of asanas on the net and on YouTube. Books and meditations can be downloaded for free online. But only a competent mentor will be able to be prompt and direct. Beginners, embarking on the path of mastering yoga, make approximately the same mistakes. More about them.
Vague goal setting
Yoga includes many practices, spiritual, physical, karmic, and mental. Without mastering the first step, it is impossible to comprehend the next. Group or individual lessons are just aimed at avoiding this mistake. Any practice needs consistency and gradual achievement of the decisions made.
Desire to embrace everything at once
Any of our undertakings is accompanied by a natural desire to do more at once. Buy food to last for a week, and preferably – for two. Yoga teaches you to bring home one potato at a time, reinforcing the skill, and gaining experience and results. The goal is to get rid of the fuss, haste, and lack of assembly.
Savasana is a very difficult pose. Yoga beginners complain that it is impossible to lie still on a hard floor, even for 10 minutes, buttocks, back, and neck becomes numb. For this, the instructor works – to help achieve relaxation, getting rid of the feeling of discomfort. Incorrect breathing exercises lead to dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea, and the urge to vomit.
Irregularity of classes
Mode, regularity, and planning are the basis of success. Studying on your own, there is always a reason to start five minutes later, finish some urgent things, or sit in an armchair with a cup of coffee while watching an interesting movie.
Group classes help to direct efforts to achieve what was planned, without much violence against the will. Training is paid, it’s time to pack up and go. This is an occasion to meet with friends in a group, and ask questions to the mentor, once again it is easy to overcome reluctance.
Yoga beginners are encouraged to attend at least one full course to establish a foundation for self-study at home. The instructor sets the direction for the transitions from the preparatory stage to nidra, and recommends literature and the sequence of its study. Only experienced mentors work in the La Salute yoga studio, a comfortable atmosphere, temperature, and silence are created. The approach to students is strictly individual, even during group classes.
This includes express yoga nidra. This is an advanced version for experienced practitioners, lasting from 5 to 20 minutes, where relaxation and trance induction can occur, as needed, using the desired system.
Designed only for a good command of the technique of relaxation and distraction of consciousness. The practice of short meditation can be used in the middle of the working day, during any free break. The essence of the express practice is to conduct a short nidra with one or two areas of the body that are most in need of rest at a particular point in time.
Reviews of yoga nidra practitioners
Alena, 22 years old: “I started practicing yoga nidra in 2018. At first, the sensations were unusual, even scary – colorful realistic dreams, absent-mindedness, and lack of concentration after practice. I started to study on the rug, but then I found a studio where classes were held in hammocks, it became much more interesting and convenient. It is difficult to describe my condition. I forgot what insomnia, laziness, and claims to others are, I was finally able to distribute my day, manage everything, not sit idle and not get tired of the state of a squeezed lemon.
Vita, 30 years old: “Nidra is the only yoga I have mastered. Started practicing at the yoga center. I really wanted to start studying, but I was terribly embarrassed by my clumsiness and inflexibility. I told the instructor about my fears, and he sent me to yoga nidra for beginners. At first, it was funny: in a dark room, people lay on rugs under blankets. It looked like they were trying to sleep. I went to bed and started listening to the coach. Now shavasana is my favorite pose. The complexes left, I finally signed up for fitness, and my desire – sankalpa, almost came true.
If you want to improve your health, improve your well-being, get rid of endless fuss, or just start practicing, because there is a desire to try, yoga nidra is a suitable option. Beginners will be able to immerse themselves in the wonderful world of yoga, without much physical stress and embarrassment, while practitioners will be able to comprehend a new stage for themselves.
More than 20 classes per week are held at the La Salute yoga studio in Moscow, with different levels of training and complexity. The schedule is compiled individually, experienced yoga teachers make sure that the exercises are as effective and enjoyable as possible.